Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.
God Learner Sorcery
Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.
Initiation Episode 10: Chris, the Weird Magic, and the Importance of References
Episode 10 of the Glorantha Initiation Series is with Chris Webb, who gave up on Glorantha in the early 1980s after saving Gringle’s pawnshop without using any magic! Plus: the importance of having references, good friends, the best spell in RuneQuest, and Runes on your roof!
Here are this week’s Chaosium news!
Tickets are now available for ChaosiumCon 2023! Head over to the official announcement and follow the link to Tabletop Events. You may have to create an account there before you can buy the tickets.
Updates on Upcoming Projects
Chaosium president Rick Meints updated the largely community-maintained “upcoming publications” post on BRP Central. I’ve reproduced below the latest version of that list (as of August 2022). It contains projects far enough along to have a good chance of seeing publication in the next couple years:
- Cults of Glorantha (multi-volume) – layout underway
- Spell Cards – manuscript complete, art commissioning and editing underway
- Dragon Pass Atlas/Gazetteer – manuscript complete, art commissioning and editing underway
- Prax – manuscript complete, art commissioning and editing underway
- Prosopaedia (systemless, overview of the deities, 128 pages) Done, off to print this year.
- Gamemaster Book (including heroquesting rules) – being written
- Pavis and the Big Rubble – by Robin Laws – manuscript complete, art commissioning and editing underway
- Sartar – manuscript complete, art commissioning and editing underway
- Chaosium Classics Volume I : The Stafford House Campaign – Done, debut printing sold at Chaosium Con, Gen Con and Origins. Available soon as a POD title on chaosium.com
- MIG III (The Meints Index to Glorantha) – About to go to the printer. PDF for sale soon
There are notable changes from what we previously heard.
First is the fact that the exact form-factor of the Cults of Glorantha is being reconsidered. I thought it was a done deal that it would be a two-volume-plus-prosopaedia slipcase set, but marketing issues, practical considerations, and cardboard shortages are on the table.
We expect that the cults material will be about 800 pages of material when layout is finished. Thus, it will be multiple books. That does not include the Prosopedia.
We doubt it will be a slipcase set.
This isn’t the only item on the list whose format is undecided. The Pavis and Big Rubble sourcebook might be one or two books. Some at Chaosium wanted the Sartar Homeland sourcebook to be a boxed set, but that’s probably not going to happen. The Prosopaedia may be a separate product, or may be sold only with the Cults of Glorantha. There is a lot of stuff that isn’t finalized as far as I can tell, so take all of this with a grain of salt… especially when shipping rates and paper availability are still volatile enough to force publishers to think twice before releasing something one way or another.
The “spell cards” have been, I believe, briefly mentioned in an Impromptu Con. This might be new to some. The Dragon Pass Gazetteer was also mentioned recently, but some people might have missed that it has been separated from the Sartar Homeland sourcebook. Note how the Prax Homeland sourcebook is separate from the Pavis and Big Rubble books.
As for the Chaosium Classics Volume 1 and the Meints Index to Glorantha 3rd edition, I’ve seen them at ChaosiumCon so I can attest that they exist!
If you look at the “coming later on” section in the original post, you’ll spot other things we’ve heard about. The RuneQuest Campaign is a Pendragon Campaign-like treatment for the first few years of the Hero Wars, up until Argrath re-conquers Dragon Pass. The Heroquesting Sourcebook is supposed to contain more in-depth heroquesting rules (compared to the shorter version found in the Gamemaster Book) plus, I will theorize, a detailed hexcrawl treatment of the Hero Plane, including descriptions of mythical places, and stats for encounters therein. The Dragon’s Eye by Jonathan Tweet is still there even though it was announced two years ago — I’m going to speculate that Jonathan is super busy and that he focused on higher priority projects during the pandemic. Everything you need to know about Elfpack is in our Aldryami episode with Shannon Appelcline. The Culbrea sourcebook is by Beer With Teeth, so they have all the info. The Kralorela sourcebook has been in the writing and playtesting phase for a long time, I think. I played in one of its scenario a couple years ago, and it featured an iteration of the Draconic Mysticism rules.
Anyway, enough theorizing! Go read the post and tell us what you think!
The Adventure of the Sword Tournament
There’s a new Pendragon 6th edition Quickstart Adventure out! This one was being handed out during GenCon 2022, and is now made available in PDF to everyone. Now I guess you have two questions: wasn’t there already a Quickstart Adventure for Pendragon 6th edition, and what does that have to do with Glorantha?
The first answer is yes, indeed. There was previously a Quickstart Adventure called The Wild Hunt. I’m not sure how one relates to the other… I guess Pendragon gets two Quickstarts?
The second answer is “nothing, except for the author of the adventure”. But I want to point out that the blog post announcing the adventure also talks about the upcoming Pendragon Starter Set. This in particular caught my eye:
There are three books included in the Pendragon Starter Set: Book I is a tutorial solo adventure, similar to what you find in the RuneQuest Starter Set and Call of Cthulhu Starter Set boxes, for those of you familiar with those products. Book II is a condensed version of the core rulebook. Book III is The Sword Campaign, an introductory set of adventures developed from the most complete portion of Greg’s manuscript.
Note what the outlier is, here. Both the Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon Starter Sets have their “solo tutorial adventure” as the first book in the starter set. Only the RuneQuest Starter Set has it as the third book. What’s the big deal? To me it seems like a big deal.
In my review of the RuneQuest Starter Set (here, and a return to it here), I had to main bits of criticism: the unexciting write-up for the city of Jonstown, and how the RuneQuest rules are too complicated to let the solo adventure be the first book, despite attempts to simplify them.
If you’ve been reading this newsletter long enough, you know that one of my recurring crusades is the (in my opinion) critical need for a big streamlining of the RuneQuest rules, similar to how Call of Cthulhu was streamlined for its 7th edition (not similar in implementation, but similar in spirit, of course). Well I think that one goal for this hypothetical streamlining would be to make RuneQuest simple and consistent enough that the next Starter Set can begin with the solo adventure. I truly believe that if this was successfully achieved, RuneQuest would be improved not just for the slightly annoyed players like me, but also for reaching new audiences and making it more viable for actual plays.
Anyway, it’s my two cents. Let me know what you think!
The White Bull S03E03
Jeff Richard’s (and friends’) campaign continues! I still haven’t found the time to catch up with the new season but it’s in the watch queue! You know, the one that keeps getting longer and longer. Everybody has one of those, right?
What is Fantasy?
In this new interview with Jeff Richard, James Coquillat talks about fantasy in general. This isn’t directly related to Glorantha, but I’m adding it to the newsletter anyway given the interviewee. I can’t say I agree with Jeff’s super-broad definition of “fantasy” here (if everything that isn’t factual is fantasy, the term loses its meaning), but there are some interesting points being made regarding literature in general.
The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!
Duckpac Book 3: Redfeather Dreaming
The soloquest for Duckpac is finally out! Grab it and explore the dangers of the Upland Marsh!
Remember that this is the 3rd book in the overall Duckpac series that provide material for playing duck characters in RuneQuest.
Holiday Dorastor: Woods of Terror
If the Upland Marsh is too nice for you, how about going to Dorastor? Stormspearia continue their trek around one of the most dangerous places in Glorantha. As always with their series on Dorastor, there are scenarios, spells, magical items, and a ton of other stuff!
A Darker Shade of Night
Here’s a new sandbox-style adventure located in and around New Pavis. A powerful artifact is left in the care of the adventurers who find that, of course, it brings trouble.
Skyreach Mountains Map
Mikael Mansen has released another map, this time focused on the Skyreach Mountains area. As always, there’s one map with labels, and one map without.
Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.
About King of Sartar
King of Sartar is an unusual book: it’s written by an unreliable narrator from the Fourth Age of Glorantha who collected and annotated various sources from “the past”, generally the Third Age. It takes what real-world historians have to deal with in their jobs, and uses that as a narrative device for a fantasy world. To some people it’s deep and fascinating, and to some others inscrutable or boring. If you haven’t checked it out yet, the second edition is available in PDF and eBook here.
On BRP Central, Jeff posted a bit about the creative process behind both editions of the book:
The whole idea of the 4th Age in [King of Sartar] was a framing device so that Greg could present many old notes and Glorantha stories in a single book without having to edit them for consistency. It also let us look at Glorantha “as through a glass darkly”, from a vantage where the “author” was uncertain what really happened.
A step back – most of King of Sartar was written around 1981 or so, for what was going to be RQ books. The Comprehensive History of Dragon Pass was part of the Encyclopaedia Glorantha, the Report on the Orlanthi was going to be in the Sartar Campaign book, etc. But with Avalon Hill deal, Greg lost money any time he wrote anything for RQ3 and so Greg’s Glorantha contributions largely went into his unfinished Arkat and then Harmast novels and projects like the Yuthuppa Book. I think it was David Hall who talked Greg into releasing a lot of this material as a book, so Greg cobbled together essays from many places, wrote a few additional bits and created King of Sartar. The 4th Age was a framing device that meant that contradictory material could be presented without concern. Also that’s how much of actual history reads – surviving primary sources are often contradictory, later traditions add new material that changes the history, and the past becomes a collection of later tales mixed with often contradictory primary sources.
One big complaint about the book was that Greg deliberately hid the ball even further, putting in dates drawn from stories from the late 1970s (originally Argrath’s hero wars were going to take place over a century or so, but then that became Ark’s Gbaji Wars) I then went through and very carefully edited the book to make it possible to discover the story we wanted to tell (which was a ton of work, because as I said above, the original book was edited to increase inconsistency). So the 2nd Edition is far more internally consistent. We kept the 4th Age framing device, even if by then we were tired of people treating the 4th Age as a defined setting.
The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.
Kraken Seminar Videos
As we mentioned last week, the Kraken convention happened and, as usual, it was full of interesting seminars… or so I’m told, I wasn’t there. But thanks to the magic of technology, these seminars are now available online for everyone to watch! So far four of them have been posted, including the above “How to Make Glorantha Fun” by Sandy Petersen.
You can also lurk around the archive of older videos for lots of other Gloranthan goodness.
Bud’s Hands Are All Over Six Seasons in Sartar
Bud, from Bud’s RPG Review, is telling you all about Andrew Logan Montgomery’s “Six Seasons in Sartar” in this video. Well, not all about it, since that’s only part 1, but you get the idea.
Thank you for reading
That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!